Cold Showers - Motionless - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Cold Showers - Motionless

by Howard Scott Rating:9 Release Date:2019-05-24
Cold Showers - Motionless
Cold Showers - Motionless

There are a couple of old adages in the music business that are generally regarded as gospel. First, all music stands on the shoulders of what came before. Unless you happened to be a caveman pounding on the first animal skin as a drum, somebody out there previously advanced the craft in the direction you are looking to take it.

Secondly, the cream always rises to the top. 

Both of those ancient rules came to mind as I was listening to “Motionless”, the new album by Cold Showers.

The LA-based band has taken echos of the 1980’s New Wave royalty and molded it to fit the modern day, enlightening a listening audience that might not be as familiar with thirty-something-year-old music as others. 

The album starts rather strangely with “untitled”, which probably didn’t really deserve a real name. This is just over two minutes of old dialogue samples with a three-note synth line playing over the top. The song isn’t really bad, it probably just shouldn’t have started the disc. Some listeners might shut the album off before the really good stuff kicks in after this listen. I admit it gave me some trepidation.

The real work starts in earnest with cut number two, “Tomorrow Will Come”. Suddenly, a pulsating beat and a synth line unleashed from decades past are blasted into a higher realm by the vocal of Jonathan Weil. It really is a bit spooky how much Weil sounds like the holy trinity from 80’s synth stylings: Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) and Richard Butler (Psychedelic Furs). That stuff was top shelf then, and this stuff is top shelf now. 

There have been two singles released prior to the album debut, “Shine” and “Faith”, and the pairing have very different compositions. “Shine” leaps from the speakers without delay and kicks the mood into near, but not quite, pop territory. A stunning female background vocal by Chelsey Holland bounces off of Weil’s lead and creates a blend just short of euphoric. This cut is as radio-ready as a song gets.

“Faith” wanders away from the mainstream and into the dark and dank environs of secretive dance clubs. Steady and staccato percussion gets bathed in layers of synth syrup while a highly distorted guitar wails its mournful tones up front. The heavily repeated lyric of “It’s Temporary” gives the listener the hair-standing-up-on-the-arm discomfort that seems to be done with just that purpose in mind.

The title of “Sinking World” should give hints that it is not going to be a remake of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” A sharp snare introduces synths with the “doom” knob turned way up. The chorus, soaked in echo and reverb, is especially dark, and the mournful vocal by Weil just adds the black icing to what must be devil’s food cake. Like most rock fans, I consider sorrowful songs a special delight all to themselves, and this one measures up to any standard.

So, just when you think you have Cold Showers figured out as an electronic group wishing to enhance and improve the previously mentioned holy trinity, they throw a song like “Black Sidewalk” onto the spinning slab of vinyl. This tune was originally done as a country torch-style wailer by Sandy Rogers probably before the members of this band had escaped kindergarten.  Not only do the electronic elements make the tune sound about as far from Country as you can get, but Emily Rose Epstein drops in to blast out the vocal. It is an interesting and courageous cover of a moldy-oldie. It really isn’t so much a cover as a complete remake, but it works and shows the versatility of the group. I’m just glad Mr. Weil didn’t attempt the vocal. This one needed a female touch.

“Measured Man” has a slight flavor of an old Ennio Morricone spaghetti western tune, while the title song carries along with an upbeat and optimistic lilt highlighted by outstanding keyboard work and a lyric that grabs the ear and demands full attention. 

“Dismiss” races along at a pace that seems determined to leave Weil’s vocal behind. He keeps up, but it seems like more of an effort than on other offerings. This is a perfect soundtrack for a car or bike chase, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it there eventually.

The album closes with “Every Day On My Head”, which gives us five minutes of the best being held back for last. We are venturing into a work that begins a bit dark and ballad-like but evolves into a symphonic parapet of sound that combines all of the considerable talents the members possess. The verses jump back and forth between quiet and loud to keep a sense of complacency at bay, and we wind up with an assurance of time well spent listening.

“Motionless” was written by Weil, Chris King (who also produced the record and contributed guitar work) and Tony Bevilacqua. According to the band, there are no hard and fast defined instrumental roles in the studio, but their stage act consists of Weil on vocals, King on guitar and Anthony Cozzi on bass.

In an interesting bit of marketing moxie, the group’s first album, “Love and Regret” is being reissued this June to allow newfound fans of the band to go back in time. Originally released in 2012, “Love and Regret” stands as a solid starting point for Cold Showers and displays the maturation process which naturally occurs when skill, talent, and drive are available in high supply. “Motionless” stands as evidence that sometimes, those shoulders getting stood on are your own.

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